Bringing home your first puppy can be a very exciting time, but it can also be a challenge. If you have never owned a dog before, it can take some time to get used to the responsibility of caring for a dog. During the time when you and your puppy are getting to know each other, it is likely that you will make mistakes, which is just a fact of life. But if you come prepared by familiarizing yourself with some of the common mistakes of new dog owners, you can avoid some of those mistakes.
- Buying a dog on a whim. It is important to realize that owning a dog is a big responsibility; it is not something you should do spur of the moment. Dogs require regular care and attention, and unless you are willing to commit to that responsibility for 10 years or so, do not purchase a dog.
- Waiting too long to train. Many dog owners make the mistake of waiting too long to start training their dogs. It is important to start basic obedience training while your puppy is young to prevent the formation of bad habits, which will be much more difficult to eradicate later.
- Not being consistent. If you are consistent in your training methods, your dog is likely to learn very quickly, but if you use different training commands or inconsistently reward your dog for good behavior, he may become confused.
- Giving too many treats. Every dog loves treats, and they are likely to eat anything that is offered to them. However, you should not dispense them too freely. Treats should be a reward for good behavior so your dog learns to associate the treat (and your approval) with certain behaviors during training.
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- Not socializing the dog properly. During the first six to eight weeks of life, socialization is incredibly important for a puppy. It will determine how he reacts to change and unfamiliar situations for the rest of his life. When you first bring home a puppy, it is important to introduce him to other pets, people and new experiences so he doesn’t become anxious or shy.
- Under-exercising. Even the smallest dogs require a certain amount of daily exercise to work off their energy. If you do not exercise your dog enough, he is more likely to become hyperactive and to develop behavioral problems, such as excessive barking.
- Neglecting mental stimulation. In addition to physical activity, your dog also requires a certain amount of mental stimulation. Toys and games, as well as simple playtime, will help to keep your dog from getting bored and developing problem behaviors.
- Leaving the dog alone too long. Not only can leaving a dog alone for too long increase the probability of him having an accident in the house, but it may also contribute to his developing separation anxiety or destructive behaviors.
- Not preparing the house. If you have never owned a dog before, you may not realize that your house is full of potential dangers. It is important to keep cleaning products, food and other potential dangers out of reach.
- Using punishment as a training method. Although punishing your dog may eventually teach him to avoid a certain behavior, it is not the most effective way to help him learn. It may also result in him developing a fearful attitude toward you. Positive reinforcement and praise are much more effective.
The Bottom Line
It is impossible to avoid making mistakes as a new dog owner, but preparing yourself for the challenge will definitely help. If you are familiar with some of the common mistakes new dog owners make, you can avoid making some of the most significant mistakes yourself.